Do You Have to Be in Shape to Ride a Motorcycle?

You’re not alone if you’ve been thinking about exploring life on two wheels. Considering the rising gas prices, commuting via motorcycle sounds more appealing every day. And for those who are comfortable riding motorcycles, it’s a no-brainer decision. But what about those who are new to the activity? You might be wondering if you have what it takes to ride a motorcycle. What kind of physical shape does one need to be in to ride a motorcycle?

Benefits of riding a motorcycle

Two people riding a motorcycle in a curve on a country road.
Motorcycle riding | Getty Images

The first thing you should know about a motorcycle is the roster of benefits. It’s fun to experience the open road from behind the handlebars. And the gas mileage is a plus as well. Driving a motorcycle consumes far less fuel than a traditional car, making it a budget-friendly commuting option.

It’s also worth noting that when you ride a motorcycle, you engage in quite the physical activity. It’s no ten-mile sprint around the park by any means. But it does require the engagement of your core muscles, coordinated upper body strength, and substantial quad power in your legs. There’s also the mental component to staying focused and riding safely. Riding a motorcycle can be very tiring to even the physically adept riders, as Motorcycle Touring Tips describes. So, does it mean you have to be in shape to ride motorcycles?

Do you have to be in shape to ride motorcycles?

Don’t worry if you’re not quite up for a decathlon you may still have what it takes to handle a motorcycle. However, it does help if you have enough strength with specific muscle groups. 

Riding can be incredibly relaxing. It’s about managing your expectations since sitting on the back of the bike isn’t like sitting on your couch. It’s not without physical exertion. Carrying the helmet’s weight alone could be taxing on your neck muscles. And the better shape you’re in will ensure you have a more easy-riding experience. 

It just won’t be fun if you struggle with your fitness and can’t sustain the strength needed to hold up a bike, balance your weight, and maintain your position. And it could become dangerous if your muscles fail you while you’re on the road.

So, be honest with yourself about your physical abilities. You can gauge your range by practicing leg lunges, pull-ups, air squats, and regular cycling, which tap into the muscle groups you’ll need to ride a motorcycle.

It can be a calorie-burning activity

When you ride a motorcycle, be prepared to burn some calories. VEHQ says a motorist can expect to burn “upwards of 600 calories” every hour riding a motorcycle. That translates to more calorie burning than an entire 30-minute run which usually can help you get rid of about 250 calories. Motorcycle Direct says it requires about the same energy to walk a full round of golf. And if you’re riding motorcycles off-road, athletic ability is even more of a factor.

Lifting your motorcycle from the stand requires some low-impact exercise. Walking your motorcycle to and from its parked space will definitely feel like leg day at the gym, especially for your calves. Leg muscles engage every time you come to a stop or apply pressure to opposing foot pegs. There’s an upper body calorie burning, too, including your deltoids and triceps used for steering the motorcycle. And your forearms will surely feel the burn after a full day of braking, using the clutch, and hitting the throttle.

Before you commit to buying a motorcycle, make sure you’re physically prepared to handle it. It might save you money on gas, but it might be more of an athletic activity than you previously thought.

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